POLICE have said the weekend fire that destroyed a Grade II-listed building in Langstone is being treated as arson – and now a campaign has been launched to see the building restored.
The building on Langstone Road, made up of two houses known as the Railway Cottages, was listed because of its historical value and is said to have been recently purchased by private owners. It dates from the late 18th century.
This is the second fire at the property in the space of a month, with another occurring on November 15. The most recent fire, on Saturday at about 11.30pm, is being treated as arson and has destroyed the building leaving just a shell behind.
Eric Cundliffe, 59, lives next to the building and said: ‘We head a roaring noise so came out the house and it was like a tinderbox had gone up.
‘It just raged, it was horrendous, very shocking to see. The fire brigade did a really good job to put it out.’
Known as The Railway Cottages, the building is a much-loved part of history for many residents, as part of the story of The Hayling Billy Line.
The former Station Master’s house is at the north-west corner of a conservation area boundary and was listed for its architectural and historic interest.
On November 15 at 6.49am the same building was on fire and had to be extinguished by firefighters.
Lynn Tolmon, joint secretary of Hayling Island Labour Party, said although privately-owned, residents must fight to have the building restored and maintained.
She said: ‘The Railway Cottages represent a vital part of the story of The Hayling Billy Line, having lost the station platforms at both ends and the Langstone station associated with the cottages.
‘They have been a beloved landmark to locals and holidaymakers.
‘We must fight to have them restored and maintained for future generations.
‘Havant Borough Council can rubber-stamp the demolition, but it can also impose restrictions upon the owners, or require them to restore the buildings to their previous beautiful state.’
Lynn has set up a Facebook group called Save The Railway Cottages.
Havant council leader Michael Wilson said: ‘I am saddened to see these historical buildings have been severely damaged by fire. They are an important and unique aspect of the history of Langstone and the borough. As council leader I would wish to see the cottages reconstructed if possible.’